What could be the incentive for the leadership of the Capitol Police to lay down on the job and allow “crazed” Trump supporters, protesting the certification of Joe Biden as the new President of the United States, to “storm” the nation’s Capitol? Because this is exactly what seems to have happened last Wednesday, at least to those who are paying attention.
According to BuzzFeed, “Capitol Police officers appeared to be woefully understaffed and were overwhelmed by crowds of Trump’s supporters. Videos show the mob knocking over gates guarded by just a handful of officers to get on to the Capitol grounds, where the crowds continued to push police back, and finally made their way inside. There’s also video of at least one Capitol Police officer taking a selfie with the rioters inside the Capitol.”
Another video seems to show people being actually let into the building.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has resigned, and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, “the chief law enforcement officer for the House and whose job it is to protect its members, plans to submit his resignation” as well.
Retired Capitol Police Officer Theortis “Butch” Jones, says he was “appalled” by what he saw. “One of the buildings being breached, the way it was done, I want to say that would never happen with the experience when we were coming up. That would have never happened. They wouldn’t have gotten that close to the steps… Somebody dropped the ball.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded Chief Sund’s resignation, adding that she hadn’t heard from him with an explanation for the failures as late as Thursday afternoon. “There was a failure of leadership at the top… Mr. Sund, he hasn’t even called us.”
According to the Speaker, it goes much deeper than Sund. “It goes beyond the Capitol Police,” Pelosi said Thursday. “It goes to the FBI. What was the shortcoming in their intelligence that they provided? It goes to the Department of Defense. How long did it take for them to respond or anticipate the need of the National Guard?”
But the NY Post reports that the Capitol Police “refused to accept help from the FBI and National Guard”, specifically that “the Pentagon offered Sunday to send guardsmen to help secure the perimeter and the Justice Department offered FBI help on Wednesday as the mob arrived, according to The Associated Press. Both offers were rejected. Instead, despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who “chairs a committee responsible for Capitol security”, according to Wikipedia, “said Sund lied to her before the event about the preparations he had made and the readiness of the National Guard.”
So what is really going on?
And how must such a breach of security feel to young progressive members of Congress who already seem to be afraid to challenge power? Just days before, they voted unanimously for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, despite pressure from their massive progressive base to withhold their vote in exchange for Pelosi’s promise to put #Med4All up for a vote on the House floor?
I argued in a recent post that once elected, left-leaning members of Congress appear to be absolutely terrified to fight for what they campaigned on. Could one motive for this huge, seemingly “on-purpose” security breach be an attempt by someone above the Chief to strike fear into the hearts of progressive lawmakers to keep them in line?
Politico has reported that there is a risk “that lawmakers might again be targeted” making it “all the more urgent that officials get fully apprised what sensitive information — about members’ schedules, for example, or inauguration plans — was stolen…”
Further, the Capitol Police don’t only protect the Capitol. Wikipedia lists their duties to include “the protection of members of Congress, officers of Congress, and their families throughout the entire United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia. While performing protective functions, the Capitol Police have jurisdiction throughout the entire United States.”
Given the seemingly deliberate aspects of Wednesday’s security breaches, might members of Congress wonder how safe they really are? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume they might consider whether the buck really stops with Chief Sund, whose resignation goes into effect on January 16. Even Pelosi has said the problem is “beyond the Capitol Police”.
How might this consideration come into play when future opportunities of leverage arise that are similar to #ForceTheVote?
Given the dire needs of the people in this time, mostly due to the current Covid19 pandemic that will likely very soon leave millions more Americans unhoused, uninsured and hungry, the demand for Congressional action from constituents is only going to grow stronger by the day. For every moment of leverage the Squad and other progressives are presented with, they are going to have to work increasingly hard to bob and weave around the truth when explaining why the time still just isn’t right to fight for the things they campaigned on, like #Med4All. A little more pressure could be just what the doctor ordered if you are an oligarch fighting tooth and nail to keep every penny you can from going toward helping the people.
This isn’t an original idea. The news website WhoWhatWhy wrote about similar types of security breaches with President Obama’s Secret Service, culminating in the resignation of the agency’s first female director, Julia Pierson, in 2014. A man with a hatchet had actually made it onto the White House perimeter, and just weeks before that, a window was shot out by a man with a semi-automatic rifle, and the Secret Service didn’t even find out about it until days later, despite the incident being documented by a witness on Twitter.
There were other breaches, including the time two uninvited guests made it into a state dinner after being tipped off in an email from Michele S. Jones, special assistant to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates — and Pentagon liaison to the White House, that they just might be let inside.
What WhoWhatWhy doesn’t mention, is that Obama actually used fear of assassination as justification to progressive donors as to why he wasn’t leading from the left like they assumed he would when they pledged their support. “Don’t you remember what happened to Dr. King?” Obama asked.
A case in point, freshman Rep. Cori Bush (D, MO), whose Twitter profile boasts that she leads with “radical love, fighting for regular people”, is one of these members, who only hours before her vote for Pelosi said in an interview where she also stated the importance of #Med4All, that what was foremost on her mind that first day was “How much I can get done, and how fast I can get it done?”
Yet hours later, she cast her first vote ever for Nancy Pelosi, as did all of her fellow House Justice Democrats, dashing the desperate hopes of more than 41,000 progressive voters who signed onto the #ForceTheVote petition.
Horror stories from Wednesday’s events include that of a woman protestor, Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt who was shot in the neck and killed by Capitol Police, but not before “blood was coming out of her mouth and neck and nose.” Another describes a “bleeding Capitol cop” screaming for help “as he’s crushed by MAGA mob who ripped his gas mask off”.
Imagine if this happened in your workplace. It might be a bit unsettling, and should you question the quality of security being provided, you might realize that there could be powers out there you may just not be in a position to challenge.
It’s fairly obvious that this alleged coup attempt is going to be used to justify a pivot from George W. Bush’s War on Terror to Joe Biden’s War on Domestic Terror.
But like any good authoritarian state, it would be a shame to let an opportunity to control its leaders go to waste. This is something to consider when putting faith in progressive members of the Democratic Party, or even a third party, which many of us feel is the next step.